Ford Fusion to get slightly different look in 2016

The Ford Fusion used for competition in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series is expected to have a slightly different look for 2016, with changes to the front and sides of the car. Officials with the Detroit-based automaker have not announced any changes, but at least one driver has acknowledged that the modifications are forthcoming. During an open test Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola noted that his team was "trying to really focus on what we need for our balance for this 2016 package, and it's not really a great gauge for us because this (car) is still the 2015 Ford Fusion. We actually have a new nose and some new sides coming for next year with a new 2016 Ford Fusion," he said. "(I'm) pretty excited about that. I've heard early reports of some good things. I'm excited about getting that on the race track next season."

Asked about possible changes for '16, Dave Pericak, Director of Ford Performance said last month, "Our current car has a strong relationship to the street car and if we were to make any changes going forward, it would certainly be in the spirit of the collaboration that has been ongoing between all the OEMs to make sure that the next generation car is an even closer tie to the street car."

It would be the second change to the front of the Fusion since NASCAR and the automakers — Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota — unveiled the new Generation 6 entries before the 2013 season. A year after the '13 Fusion's debut, Ford requested and was granted a slight change to the inset area below the car's grille. Concerns about debris collecting on the front of the car, potentially creating overheating issues, led officials to alter the area so that it became more flush with the car's bumper.

Manufacturers make design changes to their race cars when changes are being made to the production versions. Toyota officials made changes to the front of the Camry before the start of the '15 season so that it more closely resembled those made to the street version of the car. There have been no changes for the Chevrolet SS since that model debuted in '13.

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